Norris pitches well in Atlanta's loss to Pittsburgh
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) Bud Norris pitched two perfect innings and Nick Markakis homered in the Atlanta Braves' 9-6 spring loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.
Markakis connected for a solo shot against left-hander Steven Brault in the fifth inning. He had no homers against lefties in 156 games last season in his first year with the Braves.
''Any homer feels good,'' Markakis said. ''Timing is a big issue in spring, and it's coming along a little quicker than it usually does.''
Tyler Flowers and Ryan Lavarnway also went deep for the Braves.
Pedro Florimon drove in three runs for the Pirates, who trailed 5-1 after five innings. Jake Goebbert drove in two runs with a double.
Pittsburgh scored five unearned runs in the sixth off Ryan Weber.
Playing his first season after surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, Markakis homered three times last year after averaging 16 homers in his nine seasons with the Baltimore Orioles.
''It's tough anytime you have surgery, especially neck surgery. You kind of need your neck to play the game,'' he said. ''It was just an unfortunate situation and I battled through it. Now I'm here, stronger. I feel good and that's all that really matters to me.''
Norris, an opening-day starter in Houston three years ago and a 15-game winner in 2014, also is coming off a season he would rather forget, going 3-11 with the Orioles and Padres. Saturday was a good start.
''No three-ball counts, no walks,'' he said. ''I also threw some balls where I didn't get the results I would have liked, but when I needed to execute and make a pitch, I did. You're really trying to get your feet wet again and kind of get that gear rolling, but I felt really good.''
Pirates: Tyler Glasnow, one of the team's top prospects, issued three walks in 1 2-3 innings. He was charged with two runs and two hits.
The 22-year-old Glasnow, who had 22 starts at three minor league levels last season, understands he isn't going to start the season in Pittsburgh.
''I'm just kind of here, enjoying it,'' he said. ''Whatever happens happens, but I had fun out there today and hopefully I'll get another outing.''
Braves: Norris threw 27 pitches.
Pirates: RF Gregory Polanco was hit on a finger by a pitch in the third inning, but stayed in the game.
Braves: LHP Andrew McKirahan is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire season after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament while pitching on Wednesday.
Pirates: RHP Juan Nicasio will get his first start in Bradenton against a Houston Astros split-squad on Sunday.
Braves: RHP Kyle Kendrick will face the New York Mets at Port St. Lucie on Sunday.